Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2018-06-04

Bevin’s Rx to Increase Your Capacity this Summer—Number 1: Grab the text books

Counting the weeks until the launch of the Fat Kid Dance Party Aerobics video for the wider public, I wanted to talk through how we can increase our capacity. What I’ve learned is that it’s not how many hours we have in the day (they are finite) it is how we use them. And the best way I’ve found to use them well is to do the inner work that keeps me from achieving my dreams.

There is so much great healing available to you this summer just by curating your beach bag / pool bag / commute bag / waiting for your kid while they’re in a class bag. I’m excited to share with you my top picks to thrive and heal this summer!

[This post includes affiliate links to Amazon–if you buy literally anything from clicking on my links to enter Amazon I get a referral credit and I appreciate the support!]

With the Seattle class of Fat Kid Dance Party in May–taking a picture with Jes’ book to tell her that Seattle was ready for her tour stop!

First is Landwhale by Jes Baker.

Jes is the first person to tell you she doesn’t have it all figured out. But her second book is so raw and real it creates empathetic realizations. A memoir titled after a reclaimed name lobbed at her by trolls on the internet, we journey with Jes as an internationally known thought leader in body acceptance who charmingly screws things up and makes peace with her mind and body. Her chapter about how she realized her father was the root of her body dysmorphia, digging into how his cycle of dieting and gaining weight and his judgment of her body created work she must do to make peace with her body. She reflects on how many different kinds of movement she tried to lose weight and how choosing no movement at all was an important pause for her to heal her relationship with exercise.

You’ll find yourself in her stories. Jes looks deep inside the history of her fat body and explores where many of her painful moments can connect her closer to liberation. Bonus for people who like to know other characters of the book, I show up about 2/3 of the way through the book during a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood.

Photo by Kristen Frantz

Second is The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor.

This is the book I will use as a textbook for anything I teach in the future and have already assigned to my intern Asher to read.

It is an incredible reflection about how oppression of all kinds, including body oppression, intersects on our body and interrupts our peace. Sonya is a well-known expert in finding body peace for a reason. She gets it. Her premise about Radical Self Acceptance is that we are all born self loving and that we are taught what keeps us separate from that. How our media perpetuates body terrorism. How we can develop resilience to body terrorism and heal our relationships with our bodies.

This book is so valuable! Definitely throw your journal and a pen in the beach bag along with this book because you will want to do her journal prompts. Do the work and achieve a more peaceful relationship with your body. Increase your capacity by unlearning what limits you!

Me and Amber Rae at one of her book launch events!

Third is Choose Wonder over Worry by Amber Rae.

Amber was called to write this book (she returns to the topic of needing to write this book and what blocked her from doing it many times as a teaching tool). It is so accessible and fast absorbing. I finished her 4 hour and ten minute audio book in one day.

It was an immersive seminar about how to create that pivotal pause between our thoughts and our action. The thing we’ve learned from thought leaders like Mike Dooley, Shaman Durek, Louise Hay, Iyanla Vanzant, and Wayne Dyer is that our thoughts create our reality. Amber gives dozens of pieces of practical application shifting yourself back into a positive mindset.

Without spiritually bypassing, she knows how to create a new and easier reality by embracing what each emotion we don’t like can teach us. Feeling jealousy, imposter syndrome, or shame is yucky but Amber tells us how to become BFF with our shame in order to let it disappear. At a $25 cover price the peace of mind afforded by this book is worth 100 times that value. You deserve to feel good.

I am excited to dive back into the work of Amber’s book and do the journal prompts.

Since I find learning and healing happens more for me in a group, I’m offering a special Beta Group Coaching Process for four weeks using Amber’s book as our text. We’ll do the work of meeting ourselves in our journals and convene to talk about our revelations, our resistance, and I’ll work with all of you to open up what’s blocked.

I’m releasing the tickets for the 8 person coaching group to my email list first. I’ll post the link to sign up here on Wednesday. Here it is!

2018-05-18

Five Steps to Help Me Get Clear About What I Want

I put up an instagram square last week testing engagement around some upcoming tour dates for Fat Kid Dance Party. I’ve been touring since the end of February and I’ve been so many places. Seattle, Portland, OR, Minneapolis, Tuscon, Austin, San Jose, Knoxville, and back to Seattle. Washington, DC and Chicago are scheduled–please go buy tickets!

The circle up after class that I’m doing now is so tender! Finding venues that are affordable enough to have the time to really connect after class is a priority for me! Photos in this post by Jess Milligan.

When I say “testing engagement” that’s just fancy start-up speak for “Hey is anybody out there?” It’s helpful because when I look at my calendar, what is already on my plate and what I’m trying to accomplish, I tend to gravitate towards max efficiency. My inclination is to find out if there are folks out there who might overlap with where I’ll be anyway and make it happen. This is how I ended up in Austin on a random Monday, I was there for a retreat anyway and it helped offset the cost of the trip. But max efficiency doesn’t always align with what I want, or what I have capacity for!

The response was pretty amazing in quantity but it was not geographically specific. There are folks all over who want me to tour in their towns, which is fabulous, but it is also heartwrenching for me! I’m a recovering people pleaser and I want to make everyone happy. And I’m not going to Utah anytime soon!

The whole group in San Jose!

In people pleaser recovery we learn that what we must ultimately do is the work of knowing what is in our heart, what makes us sing, and what we want. I learned from Jeffrey Marsh that we do not need to be “nice” (doing what other people think we “should” or saying what they want to hear), but we can be kind. We can kindly say, “Hey, this isn’t right for me right now.” And we can be kind to ourselves and let go of the need for other’s approval.

After I heard from folks about where they were going to be able to attend class I took a next step and created a google form. This way when I do make it to Utah I can reach those couple folks who want it and make sure they know I’m coming. And I can keep gathering info about engagement over time by having it on my website and it can help with planning as I have more capacity and more income to hire staff to increase my capacity.

Dawn came all the way from Santa Rose to San Jose (this is a 90+ minute drive in traffic) to take the class and won MVP from me for coming the farthest!

This week I devoured my friend Amber Rae’s new book Choose Wonder Over Worry on audio and had a major aha moment. She taught about the method of making a list of what you want to work on and then listing what you REALLY want. Then *gasp/heartbreak* dropping the other things you also want so you can focus on what you REALLY want first. She nailed this for me—I always WANT TO DO ALL THE THINGS but my capacity and income do not yet support doing all the things.

When I sit down and figure out what I really want in the next few weeks—it is to have a killer launch of the new FKDP website and workout videos. The tour helps that, but it also hinders it. When I travel my work capacity diminishes. I want to get lots of social media shareables and help all the folks in my networks and my audience of kindred spirits to have what they need to make this workout video wildly successful.


I considered, briefly, just putting the workout video up for sale and not doing a “launch plan.” Launch plan is start-up speak for all the things you plan to do to get as many people as possible to buy something right away. It involves a lot of media planning, sometimes it is events and sometimes tours, social media shares, lots of asking and receiving.*

Me and Amber (left) and Lauren right after we filmed Amber naked in a field of blue bonnetts reading the introduction to her book.

Watching these past couple months as Amber dialed in and executed a huge launch plan has been so inspirational that I just need to try! I’d rather swing and miss doing something my heart really wants than play it safe and play it small and just casually drop this workout video that could really change people’s lives.

Every time I think of playing small I remember Tr*mp is in office and it is not time to dim our lights, it’s time to shine! The more I shine and put my healing work in the world, the more I heal other folks who will then also shine and put their good work in the world! We need more people who are fully expressed! (I talked more about being fully expressed on my email list this week!)

Because I took the time to get clear on what I really want, it helps me plan my tour this summer. Portland and Seattle are definitely happening in July, Cleveland and Atlanta are definitely happening in August, and the other “efficiency” tour stops aren’t happening. My desire to max efficiency often overrides what I really want! And it takes a lot of effort to take a tour stop to a new place and trying to find and engage that new audience is more work I know I need to apply to my launch. So I’ll go more places in the Fall!

Practicing taking up space and NOT playing small at Fat Kid Dance Party!

I was trying to make something work while I’ll be on vacation with Dara’s family at the Jersey Shore but she asked me to just focus on being on vacation not on tour. And in my priorities being a loving and supportive partner is much higher than work!

Here are some things I do when I need to know what I REALLY want:

1. Journal, free form, from my heart to the page for ten minutes

2. Make a list of what I want and then really think through my capacity, recreate the list in priority order and grieve** my lack of capacity

3. Process with a friend—regardless of what they “think” usually when I talk through something I can feel in my body what lights me up versus what makes me feel tight/anxious

4. I pray for clarity—just a simple ask for clarity “Please show me my next right move”

5. Meditation daily—seriously helps me stay clear and on my path

Being clear about what you want serves everyone in your life! If you’re a parent, showing your kids how to make decisions that align with what they want by modeling how you make decisions about your priorities is a killer life skill that will keep them on their true path and help them not become people pleasers. When you know what you want the people in your life don’t have to guess about what you need or want. It helps you set boundaries! It keeps your drama low and less of a time suck.

For folks who are bummed I’m not touring to their town anytime soon I’m planning a retreat for November 2-4 weekend. I wanted to create an opportunity for folks who want an immersive Fat Kid Dance Party experience. It’s for ALL size people and a chance to take class three days in a row (the joy meter from that alone will be on and poppin’). Additionally we’ll be working through our barriers to self care and creating tangible action plans. For more info see this video and if you want to have the first chance to buy tickets when they go on sale, fill out this form.

The workout video launch is happening early July. If you want to get access to your videos on June 15th, barring any post-production delays, as part of the soft launch, it is your last opportunity to buy the workout videos now! They cost less at pre-sale than they will full price so if you’re thinking of getting them as a gift and want the discount, get it now! I’m closing down pre-sales on May 24th.

*To be honest I have no idea what a launch plan really looks like so if you’ve done one please send me a copy so I can use a template!
**For real, my expectations create a need to grieve sometimes!

2018-04-12

Three Strategies I Use to Combat Fear-Based Procrastination

I have been working on the production of the Fat Kid Dance Party workout video in some form for nine months. (I believe that fundraising to produce a project counts as production work though I’m sure there’s some industry distinction.) We shoot the video in two weeks and I’m really excited. And terrified. And engaging in some fear-based procrastination.

Decision making is really hard for me sometimes. My perfectionism flares hard when I’m up against a deadline. Suddenly I’m afraid of everything being wrong and it makes even minor decisions seem like they will destroy everything good that exists in the world if I choose incorrectly.

This is not unlike college when every decision about every paragraph in my 20 page papers seemed unsurmountable until I was hard pressed by procrastination. Only now do I understand this to be fear-based procrastination and that I do it as a coping mechanism.

Here’s the location we chose and some of the dreamy natural light. All photos by Emily Aguilar, the Director/Producer/Editor of all four workout videos.

I am having to approach my art in a new way and it is difficult for me to adapt to change. But I can love myself through this difficulty and I know by the time I do my next video production I will understand the process more and will have swifter clarity on my decisions.

So even though rationally I am lovingly accepting of my fear-based procrastination, it’s not making the overwhelm, stress and freak-out go away. Emotionally I feel a hot mess!

Here’s the advice my rational brain is giving my lizard brain.

1. Self Care Stretches Time.
I love this advice! My friend Kelli Jean Drinkwater’s therapist said this to her and I repeat it like a mantra. It’s like that adage it takes money to make money. If it costs you $200 to do self care that enables you to make $800 you’re still netting $600. If meditating in my hot tub helps me be even 5% more chill in a day I will produce more because I’ll feel less fear based procrastination.

We are going to incorporate the cool chairs in the space in the chair-based aerobics video! The background is a chalkboard!!

2. Step Away From The Project.
In the same vein, stepping away from a project generally allows creativity and inspiraton to flow back in. Like when you cut off circulation in a limb with a bandage and you release it all the blood goes rushing back to the limb. When I get into stress and overwhelm I am just not as productive.

This morning, stressing over what music to commission to use for when I teach the line dance during my workout video, I wasn’t making any progress on that decision. I cried real tears on the phone with a friend and we decided I needed to take a break. I went to the grocery store and overhead I heard a song that inspired me to know how to direct my composer to create the right beat.

It’s usually best for me when I step away and do something sensory, like be in nature or go swimming so I get my brain into a different state. But, hey, I’ll take inspo from the grocery store!

We did not choose this space because it was up a rickety flight of stairs. No thanks! But we did take a couple bonus photos which are always useful for my social media.

3. Talk to friends.
I have the inclination when I’m overwhelmed to wall off other humans and not talk to them, instead just focusing on work. But I actually get work done faster when I connect to another human.

When I take time to talk things through with people (aka processing, which I normally don’t love) I suddenly gain new clarity and get better perspective. Even today telling McKay how I was feeling and having them mirror to me that they were also feeling overwhelmed by decision-making validated my feelings! Like maybe it’s not me maybe it’s Mercury Retrograde and it’s just hard right now and it’ll get easier.

Or maybe the other person can help you find new ways of doing things that help you make it easier. Or connect you with Big Freedia’s people so you can successfully license Peanut Butter. Or maybe the other person wants to buy the workout videos, which happen to still be available for sale through IndieGoGo’s perpetual funding situation, and thus help create the production to add cool stuff to level up the experience.

I want to end this note on a big positive because it’s just who I am. So here’s what I’m celebrating:

1. My Executive Producer Marcy scored a MAJOR clothing sponsor and the outfits are going to be so cute! I can’t wait to share about it!
2. I get to hire a chalkboard artist to do a Fat Kid Dance Party design on a chalkboard for the background of one of the workout videos!!
3. Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics was mentioned in the New York Times this morning!! I was interviewed for a piece about being a plus size bride. I gave some advice for using that time to get more positive about your body as it is rather than having to change it!

2018-01-19

Body Shaming Trump Perpetuates Harm to all Bodies

Hi Y’all!!! Exciting news–an Op-Ed I wrote for Newsweek was published today about why perpetuating body shaming against Trump doesn’t create justice it creates harm. The Girther Movement is focusing on the wrong issue! You can read it through this link.

Yes, all bodies, even bodies of people you don’t like and bodies of people who perpetuate harm. Do the work to critique folks on real issues rather than their bodies! Also these are stickers I have available, if you’d like to buy some email me–queerfatfemme at gmail!

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time–ever since the first “Micropenis” chatter, which is not only body shaming but also perpetuates harm against trans bodies. Talking about the size of someone’s genitals having anything to do with their worth misses the point of body liberation and, frankly, as sex positive folks will tell you that it’s not the size of the genitals that have anything to do with how great sex can be.

It made me so bummed out when I saw signs for the Women’s March last year that focused on his small hands instead of the thousands of substantive issues that are available for critique. I thought about the children at the march who would see that and how it might make them think that targeting someone’s body is okay and that might inflame their own insecurities about the way their bodies aren’t “normal.” What a toxic word and idea in a world so full of diverse bodies and totally valid ways to inhabit those bodies.

Signs like this! I even saw some carried by children and babies! Source: Wikipedia commons.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to lovingly inhabit the body you’re in and have some fun–check out my Fat Kid Dance Party Aerobics (For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression) videos! Just two weeks left in the pre-sale to be an early adopter!! Also available–body love meditations to help change your thoughts and party packs to be fully outfitted.

P.S. What a missed opportunity to use the term Girther to mean something really hot.

2017-07-18

The PopSugar Video About Fat Kid Dance Party

Y’all last month I posted that Pop Sugar was going to film my class Fat Kid Dance Party (For All Sizes to Heal From Body Oppression) and I wanted to pack the house, so I invited you all to come. The video was released on July 7th and within 36 hours had one million views. When it first came out Dara wondered aloud if it was viral when it hit 8,500 views and I responded, “Who even defines viral?” But whatever that definition happens to be this video is, officially, viral.

Watch it here!

What’s it like to go viral? The GOOD kind of viral. Not like America’s Funniest Home Videos viral but the kind where people hear your message and like and share it because it is important. Like you’re a body liberation activist who has been at it for fifteen years and synthesizing all the work you’ve done for all those years into aerobics and millions of people hear you say that self love can move mountains. Readers who have been with me for years here, you know how hard I’ve been hustling. This is huge and amazing.

Having a viral video is kind of like regular life except also like it’s your birthday. On Facebook your friends are writing really nice things about you when sharing your cool video. You get tons of email. And your girlfriend buys you something cute for each milestone. We had lattes for our one millionth view and I got flowers when it hit two million. Birthday treatment. (I always worked to femmifest a loving and supportive partner and I totally have one now. Visioning works!)

Me and Dara, photo by Rachel Crowl. I’m working with her on a redesign of my website, this garden hasn’t been tended in awhile and deserves to glow all fresh and beautiful! As I’m launching my Energy Healing practice I want it to have an obvious space on the site. You can read about Rachel’s fabulous journey as an actress in this week’s LA Times! So proud.

Having a viral video means lots more opportunities—meetings, phone calls, exciting plans. Lots of people have been reaching out to me since the video went viral and I’m trying to get back to people. (If you need to get ahold of me queerfatfemme at gmail is the best way, Facebook Messenger is really hard for me to manage.) A viral video does not pay the rent or get the dishes done. I’m about to go do about 8 Ikea bags worth of laundry that has piled up. That viral video has not shown up with a free washer and dryer yet!

What’s clear is that people want this where they are and I want to figure out how to get it to all of you. Right now my aerobics class is in the special LA only beginning phase but the future can have a lot in store.

The things I’m most excited about pursuing are a workout video, reality TV development and touring the class to other cities. I’ve already got dates cooking in Seattle (my mom lives up there and her house on the Olympic Peninsula is amazing to chill at, I am excited to create a second home up there) and Orange County. If you’re in either of those places and want to get an email when that happens sign up for my email list.

I have always wanted to be a talk show host and I feel like a reality platform that is committed to people living their best lives would be really fun for me. I have had three meetings with different development people in the last week–exciting! I will only work with people who are 1,000% committed to the idea that all bodies are worthy of love exactly as they are. I’m trying to figure out how to test those levels with people other than my gut instincts. Maybe I need to do a body liberation workshop with them?

In terms of getting Fat Kid Dance Party (For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression) to as many people as possible I really want to do a series of videos. Like Richard Simmons, I believe we can have fun and joy in movement and I want to bring it to everyone everywhere! My classes work just as well at a high cardio level as they do in a chair–meeting people where their bodies are at right now. Unlike Richard Simmons, I am completely neutral about weight loss goals and am not interested in making money marketing towards that.

I think that production value matters and that we deserve to have a fitness video that doesn’t cheap out on music or any other part of it. My class is about healing the effects of oppression as much as it is movement. Neurolinguistic programming is a part of why it is so effective; when you’re listening to music you know already you drop into your body and away from the limiting messages in your brain easier. People knowing at least some of the songs is also part of the fun and licensing songs for videos is no small feat, financially or logistically.

I have a lot of ideas for developing a fitness platform that can reach everyone and how to bring that into schools to help kids learn to love their bodies and love movement. I want to do it one for one like Tom’s–for every download I sell I give one to a kid who needs it. And like Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program I want to pay for the research to find out how effective it is to help raise self esteem and empowerment. Dolly lays out her process for developing the Imagination Library in her book Dream More, I highly recommend the audio book. The Imagination Library is so successful because Dolly did a lot of research to find out what works to prevent high school drop outs. I want my program to be really successful at creating resilience to body negativity and oppression.

My next steps on that front are looking at all the ways I can raise the capital–social impact venture capitalists get at me! Brand partnerships get at me! People who have interacted with building out the technology around downloads, get at me!

I’ve known Jenni for over a decade and she’s raising money to support her mental health crisis. I have had lots of Femme friends die via suicide so the opportunity to help someone choose to heal is such a gift. If you have the cash to forego a latte and help a babe in need (who does so much for our community) please consider giving or sharing her fundraiser.

On Friday at sundown I did a little Tea with Bevin live video on my Facebook Fan Page if you’re interested in hearing some of the other stuff I’m up to–taking cold showers for vitality, my cat Biscuit Reynolds, Bobby Turner this social impact capital investor and his thoughts on millennial activism, the Hello Kitty x Torrid collection launch party I went to, how and why to do a vision board, and why I’m very invested in getting financial support for one of my Femmes who is asking for help with her mental health.

If you want to hang with me and have tea (and ask questions) I’m going to work to do this every Friday live on Facebook, so be sure to like my page and turn on notifications.

For those of you who are new to my site and are coming to visit because you saw the video—welcome!!! I’m excited to have you. I’ve been blogging here for nine years and there’s a lot to love. I blog fat fashion & style, my awesome and fun life with its natural challenges, fat sex, queer stuff, body liberation activismhere’s what that is in five minutes, health at every size, LA Fat Fitness–a series about fun fitness modalities I’m trying out, spirituality, self love, dating, and nobody ever died of awkward.

Sign up for my email list to get notified of all the magic! (Plus, coming soon exclusively to email list subscribers is my Self Care Workbook!)

2017-06-20

The Commodification of LGBTQ Pride: How Capitalism Co-Opts Movements

I was cruising through Target the other day, and I saw a field of rainbow gear in the clothing section. At the same Target a year ago, there was one wall of Pride stuff and I thought that was a lot. An entire clothing section dedicated to rainbows for June was pretty remarkable growth within a year. There were pool floats, pride flag shawls, so many tanks and tee shirts with a lot of clever pride sayings, and a whole unicorn costume onesie that I almost called Dara to beg to buy. There were even tee shirts for couples to wear together to complete a rainbow for the ultimate dykealike experience and… PREFERRED PRONOUN PINS. At Target.

It is totally possible to hold multiple conflicting emotions at once and I had a bunch in the Target Pride section.

Surprised! In 1997—just twenty years ago—my gay mom would take her upside down triangle rainbow window cling off her car before I drove it. She didn’t want me to have to take the risk of homophobic hate crimes and I wasn’t out of the closet yet. It surprises me how far the acceptance of LGBT folks has come in my lifetime.

Validated! Listen, it’s capitalism. They are doing this because there are gay dollar$ to be made off of this and they want to cash in on this market. In the 70s being gay could get you fired or killed, and while that is still true today in many places, it is pretty amazing that you can come out and a big box store is giving you a high five by supplying your Pride gear.

My friend Franny at Dyke Day LA.

Delighted! I love rainbow stuff. In school I was very into school spirit, dressing up and rah rah for the team and I feel like my inherent cheerleader tendencies come out a lot when it comes to Gay Pride stuff. I love a good rainbow outfit, I love to wave a Pride flag in the right environment.

Heartened! I genuinely appreciate the show of support Target is giving the queer community by putting out this Pride section. Their show of solidarity in this instance is certainly well-intentioned. And in this political day and age when our rights could be dumped literally any minute, it’s nice to have entities give us that high five. (Though I do wonder if the Targets in Red States have big ol’ Pride sections.)

Annoyed! It always feels a type of way for me when businesses co-opt a movement. It used to be that I could only buy Pride gear on a special trip to a store in the Castro, and now those stores have all shut down and big box retailers are selling our Pride gear. It appears that more and more straight folks are going to Pride events because queers throw the best parties (we do) and they’ll put on a rainbow because it doesn’t matter, love is love! Rainbows aren’t just for queers anymore.

Maybe you’re not rainbow identified and you just want to be queer. Here’s a great shirt for that, available up to 3X, from queer non-binary owned Genuine Valentine!

Angry! At the commodification of Pride. Maybe Target should take a dollar (not even ten percent) of each of the shirts/Pride shawls they sell and give it to an LGBT non profit that benefits the most marginalized in our communities. But they’re not. The webpage selling their Pride gear sports a hashtag but not anything about donating to LGBT causes. The gay + ally dollar$ spent in that rainbow section are going to Target stockholders.

Big businesses mean well, they really do. They think they are helping when they have a big rainbow Levi’s store window or put together a social justice advertisement and slap their logo on the end of it. And in this day and age where most of the US spends their waking hours hypnotized on TV, those social justice commercials do make a difference. I really believe for it. However it does take most of the moxie out of the movement when it goes corporate.

Unbought and Unbossed! I love this Shirley Chisholm Lapel Pin from Radical Dreams–all products benefit community organizations.

Capitalism is a system that centers the privatization of resources. Movements are not owned by one person and are an amalgamation of ideas. Pride started out as a rebellion against homophobic and transphobic policing of queer people.

That general idea of “LGBTQ people deserve rights” pushed Pride forward annually and then as the movement grew, certain facets became privatized. Pride festivals became privatized in lots of ways, I would venture to say most common is someone in the first collective who started a Pride event in a city managed to be the last person standing so now they own it as {Whatever City} Pride Inc. and make curation choices with or without community input, charge admission, get sponsorships and make money off of producing Pride.

I brought my Femme Protection candle from (Queer Fat Femme owned) Last Craft with me to anchor my altar at Dyke Day! I charged a Femme Resilience magical incense blend while galavanting on my blankets with my pals. This candle is fabulous for Femme magic work and my new go-to gift for Femme birthdays.

Now corporations are putting rainbows all over things and making money off of what our Pride symbols mean to us–that same general idea that LGBTQ people deserve rights. They are taking an idea from a movement and privatizing resources associated with expressing it.

As I watch the body positive movement continue to be co-opted by corporations for their profit, it also heartens/validates/disappoints/angers/annoys me. Fifteen years ago when I was yelling Love Your Body on stage it was a revolutionary stance and now Lane Bryant just uses it to sell stuff.

At the same time, it is still revolutionary for people to hear that loving their fat body is an option so I guess net positive? While cashing in on Pride and body positivity feels kind of icky, it is still awesome that so many corporations are standing in solidarity with LGBT people in this political climate, and it is revolutionary that fat teenagers are getting the message however it comes to them that loving their fat bodies is an option.

I got this FEMME shirt at The Plus Bus. It was originally produced by Forever 21. Did they mean to print my gender identity on a shirt as a Pride thing or just coincidence?

Pride events over time have become so corporate. What began as a rebellion—honoring what happened at Stonewall, where trans women of color were tired of being harassed by cops. As Pride events gained notoriety and acceptance, corporations started sponsoring them. I remember my first Pride in San Francisco in 2000 leaving with swag bags full of corporate logos and fans promoting Queer as Folk (remember that show?) about to debut on Showtime. It’s only gotten more intense and it has been years since I’ve gone to a Pride event with corporate sponsors.

Instead I have gravitated towards Dyke Marches, which at least maintain a separation from corporate sponsorship, are community run and funded. You see almost everyone you know or have slept with in town which is why some call it “The Ex March.” In LA it isn’t even a march, it’s just a park hangout and it is THE BEST. (I’m still so fresh to LA so I only see people I am excited to see.)

Dyke Day LA was SO FUN. Epic overlapping hangouts with so many rad folks. (Here, EK, Dara, Kean and Corina.)

Dyke Day LA costs thousands to produce and that money is raised through community fundraisers throughout the year. Community organizing is exhausting work and I am so grateful for the folks who put in the time to carve out space in Pride month that is totally separate from a corporate agenda.

It’s nice that we have this space that is maintained because of the values of the Dykes that came before us. We only have it when there are community members willing to do the work and others willing to donate towards it. (It’s also a great way to meet folks—I met a group of people who completely changed my life when I worked on the Philly Dyke March committee.)

In a Kristen and Tristan sandwich!

I have been thinking a lot about how we resist the capitalism that has seeped into Pride. I think it’s by continuing to push the envelope. Queer means a lot of things but one definition I like most is queer as in weird.

Once you’ve opened up to a sexuality that steps outside of the heterosexual paradigm I think you’re more likely to think outside the box in other ways. Most queers keep things weird and push towards justice, whatever they believe that to be. When corporations grab ahold of what used to be chanted from the streets it ends up this kind of washed and faded version of something we have in full color. I love that queers keep making great anti-capitalist signs for Pride and showing up for resistance.

Philly has pushed the Pride envelope this year by changing the Pride flag to add Black and Brown—a sign of solidarity with the too often marginalized LGBT people of color who are and have been essential to this movement. The backlash is as you would expect from White LGBT folks who don’t see how important this move is to queers of color. I’m here for anything that makes POC feel more supported in the movement–and it’s so new that it’s not reflected in the Pride section at Target.

I’ll admit that I totally bought that $12 Pride shawl (before I knew there was a new rainbow flag!) after much hemming and hawing. I’ve never seen a rainbow shawl for sale and I ultimately want to give a thumbs up to Target’s gesture of (economically beneficial to them) solidarity. But I also spend lots of dollars directly to queers for their hard work and craftspersonship.

I know that Pride can’t actually be bought, and you can’t monetize the feeling of a young queer person at their first Pride parade, because even if Absolut is sponsoring the float that baby queer is paying way more attention to their crush or cruising.

If you want to sport your Pride in a more dapper and baller way, consider purchasing exquisite gender equal footwear designed by my pal NiK Kacy a very active member of the LGBTQ community.

I wonder how long it will take for corporations to adjust to the new Pride flag? I wonder what is now chanted in the streets that twenty years from now will be sanitized for the masses? I hope we keep pushing the envelope and I hope we keep prioritizing real queer people over corporations.

BTW this is NOT a sponsored post (I would tell you) but if Target wants to pass some of their profits to a queer artist out here speaking my truth I am open to sponsorship as long as it is my words and ideas!

2017-05-03

Why Authenticity is so Vital: In Celebration of Ellen’s 20th Coming Out Anniversary

“As long as you stay true to exactly who you are, you will be rewarded in ways you cannot possibly imagine.”—Ellen DeGeneres

The 20th anniversary of the coming out episode of Ellen’s sitcom was April 30, 2017. It was the first time a lead character on a TV show came out; it was before Will and Grace, the Logo channel, and Modern Family.

For those of you who don’t remember, it was a BIG DEAL. Media was covering it before it aired and endlessly discussing and debating afterward. There was an all star cast of supporting characters and extras, including gay icons George Michael, k.d. lang and Melissa Etheridge.

I found out from my friend H. Alan Scott that Ellen was celebrating the 20th anniversary of her coming out on her talk show because he was invited to be on it! His story about how he watched the coming out episode is detailed in this piece he wrote for Newsweek and on the below video from the show. (Believe me, I hinted hard that I wanted to be invited as a plus one to go to the taping but sadly he didn’t get a plus one.)

“It’s easy to forget now just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages… Not just for the LGBT community but for all of us to see somebody so full of kindness and light remind us that we have more in common than we realize and push our country in the direction of justice.”—Barack Obama on the occasion of giving Ellen the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

1997 was an interesting year. We didn’t have the internet like we do now. We didn’t have smart devices or social media. You had to call people or email to make plans and if you wanted directions somewhere you pulled out a map.

Ellen joked on her show that since we didn’t have Facebook yet in order to make a big pronouncement about your sexuality you had to get a sitcom.

They called the episode “The Puppy Episode” because when the writers told the executives she needed to be in a relationship by the fourth year of the show an executive at the studio said, “Well get her a puppy, she’s not coming out.” You can watch it on youtube in parts, starting here.

I spy Laura Dern, k.d. lang, Dwight Yoakam, Demi Moore, Gina Gershon, Jenny Shimizu, Billy Bob Thornton.

I feel like for gay people in 1997, it was kind of like the Kennedy assassination—people remember where they were when they watched it.

I remember very viscerally what it was like for me watching Ellen come out. I was 18 years old, in my dorm room at UC Davis. Wearing my bathrobe, alone on the couch I shared with my suitemates watching the cable that I paid for because TV was an escape drug for me at the time. Life was really painful, I was depressed and felt very alone. I knew I was gay but couldn’t be open about it. I was still so convinced that if I acted like everyone else and hid in giant, formless overalls I would somehow appear normal and being gay went against that idea. I also didn’t think I was going to get to own my sexuality because I was fat. Fat was, in my deluded opinion, not attractive and I didn’t think people who weren’t having sex should bother coming out.

I was super wrong. Owning your truth, that’s hot. Owning your body, that’s hot. Being true to who you are? That’s priceless and so liberating.

I don’t have any pictures of my Freshman year at UC Davis available but here’s one from two years later when I was out but still working through my relationship with fashion. Deepy appreciate this rainbow beanie. Pictured here with my very supportive through my coming out process friends Mary and Dianna.

“Your whole calling is about you being what you were meant to be.”—Oprah Winfrey

It’s very lonely being in the closet. When you don’t feel like you can be your authentic self, it’s hard to live freely because you’re always keeping a secret. If you’re out there and you are in the closet now, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone and you’re okay. When it’s time for you to come out, it will suddenly feel more uncomfortable to be in the closet than the risks you take to come out. But, like Ellen says, the risks to be your true self are totally worth it.

Sitting right next to H. Alan in the audience was documentary filmmaker Alexis Fish, who had a big party for Ellen’s coming out episode. (I wonder if they overlapped at all at my birthday party last December since they were both there.) I couldn’t believe what an amazing experience it was for Alexis and her friends to watch the episode with community. I’m so glad I get to have that community now, and I’m so grateful for social media for enabling community to be even more accessible to folks in the closet these days.

Oprah Winfrey played Ellen’s therapist in the Puppy Episode, which I had completely forgotten about. She was a guest on this special episode of Ellen’s talk show. Needless to say, I immediately texted H. Alan “YOU WERE IN THE SAME ROOM AS ELLEN AND OPRAH.”

Oprah mentioned that she said yes to appearing on the Puppy Episode immediately, and she gets credit for that. There was so much backlash, the world was reeling because of something that today seems so pedestrian. We needed that backlash in order to start a very important conversation.

Laura Dern was in the episode and she didn’t get another acting job for a full year after the episode—because people thought she was gay. “I hurt straight people for this,” Ellen joked.

“It was hard, I lost everything. I got to be stripped down of everything and start all over again. And that was a wonderful gift to be able to start all over again and to realize that I was strong enough to come back.”—Ellen

Laura Dern said it exactly right while on the couch with Oprah and Ellen. “How incredible to be sitting between the two people who have walked us toward our truth in such extraordinary ways… To celebrate the bravery to remind people to be who they are. And whatever the consequence is of doing that, it brings everyone with you when you’re willing to be that true to yourself.”

Why, in our society, is it brave to be yourself? Because of the White Hetero Capitalist Patriarchy, that wants to keep us small, to punish difference and to make people feel ashamed of who they are. Media creates a feeling of insecurity for your benign human differences so that they can sell products to you to help you feel better.

On the talk show episode there were lots of celebrity messages of congratulations. “You widened the circle of understanding, connection and kindness,” Diane Sawyer said to Ellen.

Me and H. Alan doing partner yoga. I love that he’s always game for a silly photo.

There’s a power in being openly who you are. I continue to practice that by talking openly about things most people don’t talk openly about. Part of my impetus for using this openness is to eradicate shame. I truly believe shame leads to stress, which leads to cancer and other disease. It makes me feel so much better and happier to be open about who I am, how I struggle and the tools I use to move through the struggle. I can’t do it alone and I want to help you all know that you don’t have to do it alone, either.

Last summer, my friend Jeff Scult inducted me into One Golden Thread, a whole movement about being connected to other humans with a golden thread bracelet. He said when yours falls off you should pay attention to what you’re thinking about in the moment. I have been working on staying in gratitude as much as possible in order to eradicate the effects of trauma from the past few months.

With Ellen’s coming out on the brain, I was walking through my house thinking about how grateful I was to be out, to be living with my incredible partner Dara, to have our beautiful new home and how cute my closet is going to be when it’s finished. Then I got to our bed and was super grateful for my weirdo cat Biscuit Reynolds. As I leaned in to give him a belly rub he attacked the string from my golden thread and in one movement ripped it off of me.

I have now watched Ellen’s 20th anniversary coming out talk show episode twice and can’t get through it without crying multiple times. I’m so grateful for all she did to make the world a lot easier for the rest of us.

2017-04-26

General Life Update: Dara’s Hysterectomy and Oophorectomy, Moving and Judgement Resilience

So much has happened since my last one I feel like a new life update is in order.

PRESS!
I am quoted a bunch in this great article on Autostraddle about the gym, EVERYBODY, where I teach weekly body oppression healing aerobics.

I was on Tristan Taormino’s awesome Sex Out Loud Radio show and there’s a podcast download available here of our conversation. I talked about the time I got bounced at the gate of Dollywood for wearing a gold sequin crop top while fat, even though the dress code specifically allows for crop tops.

The crop top chronicles continue because I’m on a BILLBOARD around Northeast LA wearing a mesh crop top and a bra. The front gate manager at Dollywood would be very scandalized.

MOVING!
We moved! Our new house is awesome! It has central air conditioning! We spent $550 last year in credit card points on a portable A/C for our bedroom and an evaporative cooler AKA “swamp cooler” for the living room because it was hot like the surface of the sun in the afternoons most of the year in that tiny not well-insulated house. We didn’t have a single window that could accommodate a window unit A/C and we both work from home so comfort was important and expensive.

The portable A/C was awesome and I highly recommend it, and since we bought it on Amazon it came right to our door and I installed it myself in under an hour. (A reminder if you buy anything on Amazon using my referral link, no matter what you end up buying when you get there, I get 4-6% referral credit, which adds up and really helps out.)

The swamp cooler is only medium effective, somewhere between a powerful fan and a weak A/C, but will be great for outside parties in our amazing new backyard. I think about how much time we invested in researching and implementing climate control modalities on a tight budget and now we’re suddenly in this climate controlled well-insulated environment! I can’t get that time back but at least we’re way more comfortable.

Me and my friends Beth and Tara at a Shabbat dinner exploring virtual reality as a storytelling modality for social change.

LA just had our first 91 degree day last week and all Dara had to do was touch a button and the house was suddenly cool. I haven’t had central heat and air in my adult life, it’s pretty novel. The new house also has a dishwasher that we haven’t used because I haven’t unpacked our dishes and I can’t wait to see if that changes my life.

We’ve been in our house for two and a half weeks and have so many more boxes than I thought we still would. In my visions, we were mostly unpacked by now. In April of last year I had a meltdown about how our house wasn’t yet together and somehow I had that same meltdown on Monday of this past week, a full three months early. The last house we had complex attic clean outs and renovations that slowed things down. This time it was major surgery for Dara.

DARA’S HYSTERECTOMY AND OOPHORECTOMY

Three days after we moved Dara had her first appointment with her new doctors at UCLA. In November and December of last year she had a cancer scare due to abnormal cells in her uterus. Since she finished chemo for breast cancer in 2014, she had been taking Tamoxifen, an estrogen blocker, to help prevent a reoccurrence of breast cancer. Tamoxifen is the only drug prescribed to prevent a reoccurrence to premenopausal women, there are a few types of different inhibitors to prevent a reoccurrence for postmenopausal women. Turns out Tamoxifen increases your likelihood for uterine cancer.

Dara endured multiple, increasingly invasive biopsies until she was told it wasn’t cancer but she should consider a hysterectomy and oophorectomy. Since the doctor that performed her last and most invasive biopsy wrote her a prescription for an IUD because certain kinds help prevent uterine cancer, and Dara pushed back asking if it would interfere with breast cancer prevention and it turned out it would… she took that “oops” as a tell that she should get way better health insurance and transition to the best cancer hospital in the area.

Dara at the new oncologist office. We really loved him.

I have all the Working Class Feels about how money buys you medical access, which is literally life and death for many people. To be transparent about it (because I think this busts up capitalist shame around money) Dara was able to upgrade her health insurance from Silver to Gold because her mom offered to help financially make the leap.

Further, Dara was able to find out who the best doctor was going to be for her cancer treatment going forward because she has a family friend who is a legit “Medical Concierge” who has access to that information. This is what people with money have access to, they get a medical concierge to find the best doctors money can buy and pay tons of money for their health insurance.

I cannot underscore how much I support Bernie’s continued call for universal health care in this country. Health care should be a fundamental human right, like education and access to clean water. Even if we got universal health care, as long as the US remains capitalist, I’m sure money will continue to buy access to “the best” healthcare available because people will continue to pay for it and provide it.

We both feel complicated about it, but her health is important. When she saw the UCLA OBGYN surgeon in the oncology department and she reviewed the findings from the biopsies, she said, “Can you come in on Monday for a hysterectomy?” It was that urgent to get it out. So, even though it was wildly inconvenient to have major surgery a week and a half after we moved, Dara scheduled it.

What a rough day. We had to wake up at 3:40AM to drive cross town for her 4:45AM call time for surgery. I had to teach aerobics that night and I’m still building my following so I didn’t want to cancel class. Her mom flew in to be here for it and I was able to leave at 2PM to make sure I wasn’t trapped by traffic on the West Side, though it still took me 90 minutes to get home. I am not a great napper, so I just did my best to be present and ultimately had a great aerobics class!

I drank a lot of caffeine and prayed for a lot of Divine assistance to stay present and channel the best healing for everyone in attendance.

The surgery was as successful as possible, she was done in an hour (was supposed to take up to three) and her healing has been happening swiftly. It is SO reminiscent of cancer treatment times. She has all the same prescriptions for constipation and I ran out to buy All Bran and prune juice. Dara even weaned herself off the Norco as soon as she was able (within days) because the gas pain and constipation were more uncomfortable than the pain from surgery. She can’t carry anything more than five pounds for two weeks and she’s been very weak.

Poor fifteen pound Macy is used to being able to bark for her human elevators to put her on furniture since she cannot jump up and down on furniture or take stairs, but one of her human elevators is out of order for a few weeks! She doesn’t understand. This all means I am taking care of the house and pets 100% of the time. Between regular cleaning and keeping the house going, it has ground the unpacking progress to a slow crawl.

I’m so grateful Dara busted ass before her surgery to unpack 80% of the living room and office. It feels a little hard since we don’t really have places for everything, however it is ultimately so helpful to have things having motion out of boxes. I have never had the experience of paying movers and packers before, but it seems that they just box whatever into whatever box and label it vaguely “Kitchen” and “living room” and literally none of them are labeled “bathroom” and I still can’t find my hair dye.

JUDGEMENT RESILIENCE

The fact that I am obsessively staring at my roots lately is a symptom to me of a larger issue I’ve been having around judgment. Most of the time I am incredibly resilient to judgment. I feel like it is a kind of forcefield to give zero fucks what anyone thinks about you. Someone I know was worried about my choice to move to LA because “everyone is so judgmental about weight” and I felt like I would be fine because of my resilience.

And yet, in the past month or so, I’m so worried about what other people think it is distracting me. Not necessarily about my weight but the aforementioned meltdown happened because our new landlords were coming over 2 weeks after our move / 5 days after Dara’s surgery, and I worried what they would think about our house progress. I spent two hours cleaning before they got there and left to walk the dog while they were inside because I couldn’t interact and needed to go cry a bunch. I know part of this is residual trauma from months of housing instability and not feeling safe in our home—the thought that our landlords wouldn’t like us and would ask us to move out was really triggering.

I’m glad I’m aware of the judgment resilience issue because that’s the first step to changing anything. (Awareness, acceptance, then action.) I know there’s an element of self compassion I’m missing, which is the acceptance part. Objectively I know I’m doing the best I can and I’m still having a hard time accepting my progress not perfection.*

I pulled out the big guns and watched an Oprah interview with Tony Robbins. It gave me great perspective and helped me move towards acceptance. I am already very aware that my expectations of myself are so far out of reality because of how I learned to keep myself “safe” by being an overachiever. I can easily and unconsciously punish myself mentally for not meeting my unrealistic expectations. It makes all the sense in the world why grieving for my Grandmother on top of the velocity of changes happening might make me extremely vulnerable. I’m going to meet this symptom with a LOT of self care and I’ll report back on my progress. (I’m already attacking it with lots of gratitude practice and that’s helping.)

REIKI MASTER

This week I started training for my Reiki Master atunement. I had been wanting to do this as a long range plan for Bevin’s Tea and I’ve been relying on energy healing so much lately. The more I level up my own healing capabilities, the more healing I can do for myself.

I’m studying with Syd, the healer we’ve been working with for Macy’s cancer, Dara’s cancer prevention/surgery, my grief, Biscuit Reynolds’ myriad of issues and who we brought out to do a very powerful healing the night my Grandmother POTSA. She offers a monthly payment for the Reiki Master that is the exact amount I make from my job doing social media monitoring for The Militant Baker, so it just seemed like the Universe was aligning it to happen now.

Reiki, in case you don’t know, is a healing modality to raise the vibration of your cells. To quote 30 Rock, it is the “Laying on of hands to improve one’s life.”

Reiki comes in three levels, Level One, Two and Master. Though I only need Level Two to be able to put Reiki into my teas and I can even use my Level Two ability to go through time and space for distance healing, being a Reiki Master was a goal I aspired to as a next level. I also have been wanting to do more direct energy healing work out of our third bedroom, making it not just a guest room but a true Healing Room in which to see clients and help pay rent. So even though this is one more thing to add to all of my other things, sometimes earthly logic is not divine logic. In other words, I just felt like it was the next right thing. Part of my homework is daily self treatment with Reiki and that discipline has been helpful for me.

Between the Reiki Master studies, my ongoing work with B-School developing my tea business, my AFAA aerobics certification (wading through SO much fatphobia to get certified), I think I’m in grad school for healing modalities.

This period of my life right now is reminding me of the Dixie Chicks song that has always brought me a lot of comfort—Long Way Around. I do not know why I am so multi passionate but I am and I am working to accept all the bits about me that will eventually womanifest into something pretty spectacular.

Bucket list item checked off–seeing Dixie Chicks for the first time last October with my bestie Spunky!

*I wrote this post at a Panera and had to have a freak out and resulting thought process around feeling like a failure for being 38 and not having kids yet… I am usually so zen about this. When I have flares of issues I’m usually so resolved about, it’s my tell that I have emotional and self care work to do.

2017-03-28

General Life Update

Beloved readers, here’s what’s been going on in my life lately. Anyone following me on Instagram probably knows about what doozies life has been hurling at me lately.

Me and Dara at the Cuties fundraising carnival on Sunday. Their fundraiser is going on for a few more days, you can still donate to this vital safe(r) space for queers in LA!

Your Girl is Getting Great Press

I’ve had a couple of fabulous interviews come out in the last week!

Fat Sex Week XXL is coming! It starts on Thursday and I’ve already gotten press about it. I love serendipitous press. I was nominated as a Sex Hero and I was already thinking about another Fat Sex Week because a lot of great content was floating my way and poof! Check out this fabulous chat between me and Noah Michelson Editorial Director of The Huffington Post Voices about fat sex, why Fat Sex Week matters and what you can expect! (Spoiler: Fat Sex Week is always fatter than a regular week.) What an honor to be called a Sex Hero!

Me, April Flores and Tristan Taormino, also big time sex heroes!

I’ve been telling everyone about Jeffrey Marsh’s incredible book How to Be You (seriously should be required reading in high school) and so admire their work helping people to love themselves. Jeffrey and I have such in sync life purposes.

I was totally thrilled to be interviewed for their new Facebook fan page. We had such a beautiful conversation about how I came to be a body liberation activist and how my turning points to love myself came about. Check it out here and be sure to like their page! (Like my fan page while you’re at it! I’m always popping in great articles and self empowerment.)

I Started Fat Kid Dance Party

A month ago I launched my new dance aerobics class Fat Kid Dance Party (For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression). When I heard about EVERYBODY the new body positive gender inclusive gym opening up just six minutes from my house I had to figure out how to get involved. I started taking dance aerobics in LA and was frustrated that the classes were so fast-paced and not really open to all levels, even though they said they were. So I decided to do it my way. I had been producing body positive queer dance parties, this just meant that I was not only Femmecee and Producer but I was the choreographer and DJ, too.

This is what a gender neutral locker room looks like! Now if only they would install in a make-up mirror/vanity for the Femmes of all genders who want to put on their face/take well-lit selfies.

I spend hours on this every week as I learn this new art form and healing modality. I’m so excited how I’ve been able to use the concepts I’ve incorporated in the workshops I teach about body positivity into lessons during aerobics numbers. It is a very unique class and, I think, very healing with high joy vibrations. I’m getting great feedback from folks coming (bring friends, it’s so much fun in a group). Last week we did a cheer dance routine to all Missy Elliot songs, we did an aerobics dance for peace, a Prince song exploring body postures that give confidence, a 90s dance retrospective to Vanilla Ice and more. Every Thursday at 7:30PM! When you sign up online ahead of time, your check-in at the gym will be very fast.

My philosophy is if I would go to a dance party wearing it, I can use it to teach class. I love wearing overtly political shirts to teach aerobics. You can grab this and many other fabulous shirts/tanks/onesies from Genuine Valentine!

Since I often use exercise to prevent depression, I think my partner Dara genuinely believes I am going to be a happier person because I’m an aerobics instructor. Using an actual line of factual reasoning from one of my favorite movies, Legally Blonde.

We’re Finally Moving

My beloved Grandmother POTSA (Passed On To Something Awesome) on January 26, exactly a year after our lease on our little house in LA began. Two days later our landlady told us she was selling our house. Things here haven’t ever been great—it’s an old house and took a lot of work to become comfortable. We put heart and soul into it and even did a very DIY remodel of the attic to create a Mariah Carey closet for my clothes and Femme accoutrements.

Photo by Jes Baker of the Militant Baker. I’m still working every weekday monitoring her social media.

Our landlady used to live in the house behind ours that shares our driveway and while she was there with her grown children it was chaotic but not awful. We even had some really sweet holiday gatherings for Seder and the High Holidays in the courtyard between our houses. However, she moved out in October with her son and things got way worse. Basically, her daughter is selling meth and we suspect that at times have been cooking it. (Based on tells, like rotten egg smells, SO MUCH GARBAGE, etc…)

This is the Epic High Holiday. I used glitter burlap to artfully cover their weird pile of junk that included three old TVs (one was a big screen) that sat there for months until they cleaned it out and immediately replaced it with a broken down convertible that is now collecting a different pile of junk. But this pic is a great example of that old adage “When life hands you a pile of junk in the middle of your event space, break out the dreamy twinkle lights and glitter burlap.” Photo by Rick Sorkin.

I’m a person who believes really strongly in body autonomy and people getting to make their own choices about their bodies and what they do to them. That’s why I don’t shade fat people who make choices about weight loss and that’s why I don’t shade folks who use whatever drugs they want. However, one of the first things I learned as a young adult was “Never trust a tweaker.” That’s really stuck with me and I keep my distance. I also work hard at a 12 Step program for families and friends of alcoholics and drug addicts and I know the realities of that life very well. It’s been hard to have that energy so close by, the Trigger Train is making all stops.


The foot traffic next to our house has been rough. Imagine strangers constantly streaming past your living room and kitchen windows. It’s like having a coffee shop open up but not exactly coffee. The worst part is Macy, my dog, now has cancer and I highly suspect it’s from the stress and energy of the people passing. If you’re not a spiritual person, from an earthly logic place any dog would get stressed by so much foot traffic. From a spiritual place we had Syd, our energy healer, come by to do a healing for Macy and Biscuit Reynolds and she described the energy of the person walking by as being “hit by wasps.”

Things got to the biggest breaking point when we were up in San Francisco for my friend Amanda’s memorial. The folks in the back house had a party and someone was screaming about a gun. 9 cop cars and 2 helicopters later our pet sitters left Macy alone in the house overnight and I just hit my own breaking point. I knew I couldn’t be present for a memorial while scrambling to coordinate pet care from afar. We turned around and drove home the next morning. (Only one arrest, they are very good at hiding their drugs and guns.)

Anyway, we’re happy to have finally found a place! It was a difficult search. I’ll write a post about it in the future, but we were looking at a leap in rent no matter whether we got a smaller 2 bedroom house or a bigger 3 bedroom house. We could say yes to this paradise in Eagle Rock because it is well set-up for a room to be an occasional air bnb, which will help with our rent jump until Bevin’s Tea becomes wildly successful. And once we get the motor fixed, we will have a hot tub! Healing Oasis!! Thank you to everyone who sent us good vibes, woo, and prayers that we would find a great place!

I’m Throwing Myself into Spiritual Work and Grieving

Clinging to anything leads to suffering. I know that intellectually but I struggle with that a lot in grieving. I’m definitely still mourning my Grandmother big time but without a lot of capacity to do so because of the new aerobics class, house chaos and the moving. I’m also grieving all the stuff I wanted to do in our current house to bring it to fruition that I don’t get to finish.

I have been struggling to stay in faith these past two months about finding a place that works for us, and trust that something better was coming along. Many thanks to Alex, my fabulous psychic, for the pep talk that there was something better.

A quick trip to Sacramento last week while Dara attended a conference was just what I needed. My bestie and soul sister Spunky just moved to a fabulous new apartment in Sacramento. We toasted to NOT SETTLING and trusting the Universe to always deliver bigger and better with change.

Energy healing, going to an astrologer, card reader or psychic, or attending a class like a sound bath meditation, yoga or any of the Heal classes at EVERYBODY is a combination of therapy and spiritual practice. I have been throwing myself into all of these things because I know they help and will help me keep my energy moving. Grieving is part of life, and as someone with a lot of losses I want to do my best to process it and still really LIVE. It’s hard to live when you’re stuck in grief and sadness. This blog is a chronicle of my relentless pursuit of joy and I believe you can have joy no matter what, but that you gotta look at and acknowledge your darkness and sadness in order for it to pass.

When I know I’m not processing my grief enough it is really helpful to throw myself into healing modalities. It’s a thing you can do helps to turn on a spigot and let all the feelings out. About a month after Grandmother POTSA, I realized I was constantly in classes and environments where people were guiding me in taking deep breaths.

I’ve been enjoying Jasmine Danielle’s classes at EVERYBODY. They are strengthening, Barre, and yoga infused and so great. A three pound weight packs a bigger punch than you think!

If you feel so moved, take a deep breath right now. Breathe in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four, four times. This Four by Four breath I learned from Tara Magalski, is a real savior in centering.

The next big spiritual work I am going to do is to let strangers pack my house. I will leave my current house with Macy and Biscuit Reynolds on Sunday, let Dara supervise the packers we are paying to pack up our house, and come back with the pets on Monday to the new place. We both have had a lot of work taking up our time, we knew getting packers was essential to our being able to move quickly. Dara said I should just leave and let her handle it (she admitted later it was both a gift for my sanity and it will be easier for her without me around).

California is gorgeous right now. Due to all the rain this Winter the wildflowers (and bugs) are poppin! The hills look like they’re painted orange but these are just swaths of flowers. So beautiful.

I’m a controlling Capricorn and have serious issues with people moving my stuff around but I also know this will open up my capacity to write more and get more done. I can heal more folks and do more work in the world if I learn let other people do things that bring me stress. Plus, my friend Katy is in town and was just going to chill at her pet friendly hotel all day and invited me along. Yes please, Universe, I will accept this gift and learn these lessons while being a fat babe at the pool with Katy.

Bevin’s Tea is Still Brewing

I’m still hustling my tea business, though much of my business development was put on the shelf in October when Grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Right now I’m kind of a low-key tea dealer, selling to my friends and folks through my blog. Soon I’ll launch on Etsy, once I have the photos done and new labels designed. I am thinking about investing in a fancy label printer and I’m also deepening my work as a healer so that the blends become even more powerful energy healing. I want to return to blogging the process of developing a product based business, because the more work I do with Marie Forleo’s B-School the more I realize how much I benefit from reading other people’s small business journeys.

Got to hang out with Jes Baker a couple weeks ago when she was in town for a speaking gig at a college!

So, beloved readers, get ready for the launch of Fat Sex Week XXL on Thursday! It’s going to be fatter and louder than ever before. For now catch up on the last Fat Sex Week!

2017-03-27

Why Feud: Bette and Joan is One of the Most Fabulous Shows on TV Right Now

Ryan Murphy, the creator of Glee and American Horror Story, is back with a new series on FX. Feud: Bette and Joan follows the story of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford while they film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, a horror movie released in 1962. Starring Jessica Lange as Joan and Susan Sarandon as Bette, Feud confronts and explores ageism and sexism in a way I have never seen on TV before and I am LIVING for it. We can learn so much about the effects of body currency by watching this show.

Joan Crawford is obsessed with preventing aging in scene after scene. In the first episode her in-home aesthetician is hustling hard at softening and tightening the skin on her neck while telling Joan there’s nothing to be done about the neck, really. Joan is often staring in the mirror with disappointment, rushing out of the dailies for Baby Jane because she hates how the lighting reflects her visual age. Joan famously said, as is repeated in the show, that twin hazards of fame were alcoholism and loneliness and her alcoholism is very well featured on the show.

Bette Davis is not immune to the sexism and ageism in Hollywood, either. Much like Joan, acting roles were drying up for her because Hollywood studios weren’t producing movies for women their age. This is explained in back story how the two women who were famously feuding came to work on this film together. In the first episode Joan hunts through library books for a story that could be a script with a strong character for her.

OUTFITS. I’m getting so many ideas for my fatshion bucket list for vintage looks to recreate from this show. Especially that dressing gown Joan wears on the set of Baby Jane. This show is my gender.

Joan Crawford’s grief at the aging process is made so much worse by her investment in a system of body currency. This term was coined by Jes Baker of The Militant Baker, and it describes the value placed on certain bodies based on oppressions and privileges. In our society, body size, ability, age, gender presentation, race and a whole slew of other variables receive a certain value. This is why a lot of fat hatred is rooted in fear—if people give up their body currency they will lose some sort of access to privilege, or they are constantly in fear themselves of getting fat and losing their privilege. But we can choose whether we are invested in this system or not, relieving ourselves from that constant source of terror. It’s helpful to remember that the system of body currency is something we are taught to keep us supporting the billion dollar diet and cosmetic industries who exploit the fear they create.

Joan is in agony over her age and her shifting career. I absolutely love that this show is on TV because it shows so beautifully the true cost of investment in this system in the long run and especially later in life (hello, we are all getting older).

I’m obsessed with the set used for Joan Crawford’s house and love the sumptuous colors and saturated pastels and amazing wallpaper and draperies. This is the second aesthetician we see in her in home spa and I wonder if this is to indicate the first woman was fired because she said things Joan didn’t want to hear about the visual affects of aging?

I think a lot about the effects of sexism and ageism on the women I admire. This includes my beloved Grandmother and my idol Dolly Parton. Grandmother cared very deeply about her looks. She was pretty broke in the earlier part of her life, especially as a single mother in the sixties. In those times her beauty was great currency.

She eventually found success as a real estate agent in Beverly Hills, where it’s all image all the time. Aging was hard on her. So was trusting other women. Especially given how many women accused her of sleeping with their husbands before she remarried, simply because she was beautiful and single–“This is what it was like in the sixties, Dear,” as she would say.

I look at Dolly Parton and how she hides more and more of her body, especially her hands. You’ll never see her without something over them. I like to think of it as the “more is more” approach to accessorizing that I prefer, but I always wonder if it is to hide the effects of aging on her hands.

All of Hedda Hopper’s outfits in the show are more is more. I would be such a good mom to that feathery hat.

The men stirring the pot in the feud between Joan and Bette are relying on scarcity and body currency to create the tension between them. It works. Joan and Bette feel like they are fighting over the same few scraps: scripts featuring any roles for older women (few and far between), attention from men, money.

If Joan and Bette divested from body currency, they might be able to be bouyed by one another’s fabulousness. Whenever I’m around other babes who are babing to the max, I feel like more of a babe. I don’t feel overshadowed because I know there’s actually enough light to go around. But Joan and Bette certainly didn’t live like that.

I love that in the telling of the story for the TV show Ryan Murphy uses Olivia de Havilland and Joan Blondell, other actresses of their generation, in documentary interviews about the feud, creating a chorus of women who articulate the experience we see Bette and Joan going through. They talk about how there’s only one “it girl” at a time and how lonely it gets when the roles and attention dry up.

Because Joan Crawford is so invested in the system of body currency she is experiencing multiple, devastating losses. When you divest from the system of body currency, you do not lose when you age. You simply get older and enjoy life more, which ironically, has a pretty amazing effect on you at a cellular level. From what I have learned, the fountain of youth is to not give any fucks about aging.

Ryan Murphy is openly gay so it doesn’t surprise that there’s a great gay subplot.

But you can’t ignore the foundation the patriarchy laid for this feud and there was and still is an actual scarcity of roles for older women actresses. This is where Ryan Murphy is not only doing great social justice work by confronting sexism and ageism in his new series—he is actively interrupting the sexism and ageism by writing a great script for some phenomenal actresses to shine bright. The whole series is sumptuous in its great writing, gorgeous sixties sets, outrageously beautiful clothing and fabulous women actresses. There is even an openly gay character showing what it’s like for gay actors pre-Stonewall.

I lament there is a complete lack of roles for people of color in the series and I definitely think he can do better in that regard. He picks up where Mad Men left off in many ways with the opening credits an homage to the Mad Men opener, attention to vintage detail and casting Kiernan Shipka in the role of B.D. Sherry (Bette’s daughter), whose presence makes you feel like it’s just the next chapter of Sally Draper’s life. In some ways he is using the neural pathways folks already have for Mad Men and other heavy attention to detail vintage series but I wish that more directors working with historical content were willing to use racially revisionist casting reflecting current values the way we see with Hamilton.

So looks like it is a page ripped from Mad Men in the best ways. I miss that show!

Nonetheless, Ryan Murphy’s storytelling is fabulous. Even if you know most of the backstory for the show, the way he tells the story is the real delight. When you get to the end of Episode Four (which aired last night), just note the way he sets up the scene where Joan finds out about the Oscar nominations. It’s absolutely perfect.

Catch-up with Feud on demand as well as online with a cable subscriber login.

2017-02-13

Authenticity and Intimacy: Remembering My Relationship with My Grandmother

Some of the best gifts I have given myself were making decisions, even when I didn’t know how to move forward. The decision to stop hating my fat body. The decision to pursue an art career instead of law. The decision to move to LA. The decision to be myself, no matter what. Authenticity is freedom and the gateway to real connection.

In 2011 I made a decision to have a close relationship with my Grandmother. I had always loved her, of course, but our relationship was through the veil of family dynamic and not one-on-one intimacy.

Grandmother would always come with me to Crystal Fantasy, one of my favorite metaphysical shops. We shared an affinity for amethyst.

As you can imagine, when you have a Grandmother who you call “Grandmother” like it’s a Royal title or something, she’s unusual.

Grandmother is a title not a term of endearment. Flowers in the Attic is one of the only cultural references for that, and it’s not a warm fuzzy one. Even on Downton Abbey where they emote in the most British and subtle ways they call their Grandmother “Gran.” Emily Gilmore, that vestige of Connecticut upper class propriety, went by “Grandma.” Whenever someone outside of the family called her “Your Grandma” you kind of wince a little and correct them.

Calling her Grandmother was the first way I put her on a pedestal. I worshipped her, in a way. She was an icon: of femininity, fanciness, elegance, intelligence, independence and beauty.

My mother (who just went by “Mom”) raised me as a single mom in the Bay Area, about a seven hour drive from the rest of our family in Camarillo and LA. Grandmother lived Beverly Hills adjacent with Grandfather David. I only saw them a couple of times a year, and usually amongst the crowd of our family. I grew up knowing her as the Grandmother character in our family but not in a personally intimate way.

Rare shot of Grandfather David not wearing a suit.

I think if I had spent some time just the three of us (me, Grandmother and Grandfather David) it would have been great because we were all three Capricorns and loved to ask people questions. However, I’m super sensitive and my Grandfather could be crabby* so it was probably good we saw one another infrequently so he was always on his best behavior.

Our lifestyles growing up were so different! I lived in an apartment, my mom was literally always stressed about money and Grandmother was living in a big house finally doing well in her life financially as a Real Estate Broker in Beverly Hills. (Her 90210 office address was so cool to me in high school. I loved that show a lot.) Grandfather David was a professor of biochemistry at UCLA. Their house on Warner Drive looked huge to me. It had floor to ceiling bookcases, a standard of opulence I still appreciate today.

I have no idea who this dashing celebrity looking dude is but I wish I knew. I also wish I knew where that dress ended up!

It really mattered that I pursued higher education. Growing up I never questioned that I would go to a University, it was all I ever heard from my mom and from them. I went to Law School in large part because of their influence. They told me higher education was completely vital to credibility and that because I was smart there would be a yellow brick road of security paved after I got that JD.

I learned after charting my own course in life that security is not happiness. Having a JD made it way harder to get a job a lot of times, the complete opposite of what the Dean of Admissions said during 1L Orientation. When my “secure” law firm job of five years suddenly disappeared during the economic crash in 2008 that message finally hit home—nothing is truly secure. It became vital to me to live my truth and do what I’m passionate about.

So here I am a writer and making reiki infused tea and producing parties and working towards that talk show I am destined to host. I had an amazing, spiritual moment with an older man at a bus stop who, I realized in hindsight, was clearly channeling my Grandfather who told me I was a writer and he was proud of me. I know Grandfather could never have said that to me in this realm.

She really did a Norma Jean / Marilyn thing when she went from being a brunette bombshell to being a blonde bombshell.

I had to learn how to perform myself and not perform other people’s expectations of me. Grandmother did her own version of performing herself.

She created a persona for everyone she interacted with, she knew exactly how to get on someone’s good side and agree with them on the right points to put them at ease. I noticed this last year, she would be really positive with me and Dara because we are eternal optimists. I would hear a different story from other people and realized what she was doing. It’s a trauma response, to curate yourself to be the most pleasing to your audience as possible. I don’t think she did it intentionally to manipulate, I think she did it because she wanted to make people feel good. And people felt great around her.

Her with her hair stylist a few years ago.

When she was well into her 80s and it was convenient for her—bypassing those post-9/11 shoes off lines with her high heels still on, for example—she would proudly announce her age and provide her id. For years before that she hid her age with make-up, strategic plastic surgery and begging her children not to out her as their mom. She was a charmer and could command a crowd one by one, with each interaction and also with her fabulous looks. I’m bummed I never got to see her work a room in LA and learn how to network from her.

The fact that I didn’t feel particularly intimate with Grandmother when I was already in my thirties was what I made a decision to resolve. She had already given me glimpses of what she was like one on one in car rides, and she had been so accepting of my queerness that I decided to give it a shot. I didn’t know how exactly to create a deeper relationship, but from what I learned in Al Anon it was about trusting her with my authentic self and taking her off that pedestal. Pedestals are a huge barrier to intimacy.

Glamming together at my mom’s wedding in 2008.

I drove cross country in 2011 because I wanted to visit her alone for the first time and it was cheaper to gas up my Prius than fly and rent a car. I had run an emotional gauntlet by the time I got to her house, having just lost my job at Re/Dress when it closed, gone through a break-up, saw a beloved alcoholic ex-girlfriend who I had thought was going to drink herself to death for the first time post sobriety, and saw my estranged father. By the time I got to Grandmother’s all I could do was sleep and talk. My emotional risk paid off, she was so loving, sweet and accepting. It was very healing to be with her.

I never realized she hated Mexican food until I moved out here. Before that she would ALWAYS take me when I was visiting from the East Coast, which was a really nice thing to do. But once I moved here she knew she didn’t have any obligation quesadillas to eat with me.

That visit really opened me up to a lasting relationship. It’s interesting how when we are used to occasional visits with our families in big groups we don’t develop a lot of one-on-one intimacy. I loved that I felt like myself around her. We didn’t agree on everything, but she was always open to hearing me out.

One of my favorite moments recently was her complaining about seeing a woman doctor who hadn’t brushed her hair before their appointment. She equated sloppy personal aesthetic with not being a good doctor. Whereas I would prefer the doctor who was so consumed by her work that her hair was not at all a consideration. I told Grandmother that people have different value systems and no one here has to be wrong. Some people might think it was a waste of time for Grandmother to spend however long she did on her make-up in the morning (sometimes it was a full hour, sometimes she could be in and out with full face in 15 minutes**) but that they just had different values from her. I like to think that one sank in.

She told me I should date a Scorpio (her first husband was a Scorpio) and it turned out she was good friends with Lois Rodden, a famous astrologer, who my astrologer Katie Sweetman of Empowering Astrology confirmed made important contributions to modern day astrology. We had such great visits and I always longed to make enough money to be able to fly out a few times a year from New York City. Not having achieved that, making the decision to move ended up being the best choice.

I’m so grateful I moved to LA for a million reasons, but the ability to go visit her so often in her last year (we had no idea it was her last year, she was independent until she was felled by her only chemo treatment) was the best gift. We even spent last Valentine’s Day together! Being able to be so present for her illness and her Passing on to Something Awesome (POTSA) is something I’ll always treasure. Last Summer I shared with her a confidence I only shared with a small handful of besties. I’m so grateful that when she passed I had no secrets from her.

It all started with making a decision.

*I’m being kind; he could be a complete dick but at least he was nicer than her first husband.

**Our whole family could be waiting around for seemingly forever to go out to breakfast but Grandmother would take exactly as long as she wanted to get ready in spite of everyone’s protests. I loved her acts of defiance in service to her aesthetic.

2017-01-23

What Kind of Activist Are You? Free Five Minute Journaling Exercise!

In light of the tremendous success of the Womens’ Marches throughout the country this weekend, a lot of people are feeling a strong call to action but don’t know where to start. I have a simple, five minute journaling exercise that can help!

I think this event was so legendary that our kids are going to think of it like we think about Woodstock. When I was young I always asked people who were young adults around that time if they went to Woodstock. Everyone has a good story about it, even if they weren’t there.

On Friday Dara, me and my friend Rick Sorkin implemented Love & Resistance, a Shabbat Dinner party centering activist uplift. We had a number of amazing presenters and Dara’s facilitation of ‘From Words to Action: Changing the Way we Organize with Love & Resistance’ was a hit. (She’s a professional facilitator and she’s fabulous.) I thought the content of her thirty minute facilitated discussion was a fabulous place for folks to use for self-reflection about their activism.

The pics aren’t in from the event but here’s Dara at the Madonna Inn!

Dara broke down five types of activists.

Protestor
If you are the first out on the picket line, you love to participate in boycotts, you are totally into calling your Senators and Congress folks, you might be a Protestor.

Protector
Unfortunately, Dara’s example for this type happened to her on the way to dinner. At the ATM in Silverlake, getting cash to pay for the restaurant, a man walking by screamed “Get all your money you Jew bitch.” For real. So if your inclination if you saw this happen was to roll up on Dara and find out if she’s okay and figure out how you can help her, you might be a Protector. Same if you are on a Southwest flight (where there are no assigned seats) and you sit next to a person of size to keep them from getting hassled by fatphobic seatmates. Or if you engage in other actions of one to one solidarity with folks who are vulnerable for a host of reasons… you might be a protector.

Bridge Builder
If you were invited to a meeting to talk to Drumpf supporters, would you do it? Do you want to figure out how to connect with people who don’t believe in the same things you do? Do you believe empathy and understanding can help us end racism, sexism, homophobia and the like? If so, you might be a Bridge Builder.

Healer
If your activism stems from a place of offering meditation, yoga, mental/emotional/spiritual/physical healthcare practices. If you gather people together to create healing, or practice self-care you might be a Healer.

Art Maker
If your activism is in the form of making art or music, if you hear “write for an SEO project working to make the internet more positive” and you immediately email them about it, this might be your form of activism.

The stickers are what folks in the room identified as. You’ll note glitter stars are a theme throughout the event. Photo by Tristan Taormino.

Dara then broke out groups of each type of activist (knowing that people fall into multiple categories.) I adapted the group work to journaling prompts here:

Consider the 5 types of activists. For this exercise, I want you to think about the type of activism you feel most drawn to right now. (Picture yourself doing each type of activism. Whichever one rings with the most joy, that’s what you feel drawn to.)

1. In your experience, what’s working about what activists in this area are doing?

2. What are the biggest challenges these activists are facing?

3. What could these activists do to improve the way they organize moving forward?

4. What’s one thing that you would be willing to do to improve the way you engage in activism?

If you find yourself currently engaged in a different type of activism, apply these questions to that type in a subsequent journaling session. If they are different, journal about why you’re active in an area that is not what you are drawn to!

My piece was about Mariah Carey’s Lingerie Lifestyle as applied to social justice. Photo by Tristan Taormino, who helped us by co-hosting, donating a prize and inviting folks!

Doing this simple and powerful work has already impacted how I perceive people in my life and helped me understand better how to work in coalition with them. At the event I noticed when we talked about Bridge Building there were people in the room who actively roared against it. That’s totally okay if you have a strong aversion to one type versus another, it takes all kinds! In my opinion, Bridge Building is essential work to creating change, but so are all the other types of activism. Healing is also essential—and sometimes activism means powering down, healing yourself and staying alive.

I also extra loved that there were report backs from each group. Big takeaways I loved were Protectors saying to remember to stay in listening mode and let folks be autonomous when you’re working in solidarity. Protestors saying it’s been 60 years and we’re still protesting the same stuff. Bridge Builders saying to remember to see people as people, not as monoliths as their ideas. Art Makers saying they need to make sure they are using their art for activism and standing behind what they believe.

Photo by Tristan Taormino.

Whether your activism is protesting or protecting, we need you more than ever so that we can collectively take that marching resistance energy and shift that arc towards justice under the weight of our boots/heels/wheels/loafers/sneakers/sensible lesbian sandals!

Our event was made possible with a grant from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. We asked our guests in lieu of tickets to donate to Project Q, a fabulous non-profit in Los Angeles that serves LGBTQ homeless youth. If this resource is valuable to you, consider a donation!

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress